Getting an industry which traditionally winces at the thought of talking about its safety is no simple task.
To find out how one firm of consultants is going about things a little differently, Richard Bradley talks to Safety Revolution.
When asked to talk about health and safety, many think the issue as an unnecessary waste of paperwork and time.
However, asking people if they would like to go home safely at the end of the working day provides a totally different response, according to Safety Revolution’s managing director Oliver Dale.
Safety Revolution is a health and safety consultancy and training team which specialises and works only in agriculture. And with the aim of getting the industry talking, the firm will be exhibiting at next week’s Lamma show as the main sponsor for the new farm safety zone.
Mr Dale says: “We have exhibited at the show in the past, but this time we wanted to do something a little different. We want to start the conversations and get farmers thinking about health and safety, so we thought having a number of seminars with industry recognised figures would be a good way to go about this.”
A major point which the firm says it wants to get across is health and safety does not have to be an extensive paperwork exercise, and businesses can start by making small, simple changes to working practices and equipment.
“It is often simple failings which can issues. For example, keeping the yard tidy, making sure equipment is properly maintained and workers have suitable clothing and equipment can help improve things.”
Mr Dale also says how some can forget there is no option when it comes to health and safety in the workplace. It is a legal requirement for employers to provide a safe working environment.
Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show 30 people were fatally injured working in agriculture, forestry and fishing, in 2016/17, which totals 144 in the last five years.
With 27 of last year’s incidents directly related to agriculture, his makes up about 20 per cent of all UK workplace fatalities, in an industry which only employs about 2 per cent of the national workforce.
With this in mind, people often also do not consider the emotional consequences of injuries or fatalities on farms, according to Mr Dale.
“Especially for smaller businesses where there are only a few staff, it can have a major impact. And this is before an inquest, which can be up to two years after an incident.”
It is not all doom and gloom however, as Mr Dale says there is light at the end of the tunnel as far as health and safety is concerned.
“Farmers are becoming increasingly aware of its importance now, as their perception of health and safety changes. And things are becoming more sophisticated too. We are seeing a lot more people who want to get under the skin of things to improve how they carry out their work, rather than just signing off risk assessments and doing regular checks.
“A lot of conversations are being started by people asking us what they should be doing, rather than why.”
To ease into these conversations with farmers, Mr Dale says how each of Safety Revolution’s 12 consultants come from agricultural backgrounds. He adds this allows them to have an understanding of how a farm is run on a daily basis.
“In the past, other consultants have waxed lyrical about acts and regulations to farmers who do not always need to know all of this. We try to cut things down to exactly what is relevant.
“By keeping it simple and relevant, it is more likely to get done in smaller stages which eventually builds up to our end goal, where the farm can be self-sufficient for its day-to-day health and safety.”
"We go round with the farmer and try to understand the daily tasks they do and where improvements could and should be made
- Oliver Dale
Acting as an independent adviser, similar to a farmer bringing in a nutritionist or agronomist, Mr Dale says his firm goes to farms with the sole focus on improving health and safety by reducing risks and providing supporting evidence in the unfortunate event of an incident.
“When we go on a farm for the first time, we go round with the farmer and try to understand the daily tasks they do and where improvements could and need to be made. This is followed up by a prioritised action plan, which we try to keep concise so it is doable in a short space of time.”
As a complete health and safety provider, Safety Revolution’s plans generally span three years. However, Mr Dale says how by the end of their three-year spell, having visited the farm every few months, customers often retain them to ensure they are keeping up with the latest standards and constantly trying to improve things further.
“Some also keep us on due to the ever changing and expanding equipment, workforce and environment and evolving legal landscape.”